Bucket list sites to visit in the new decade

A new year and a new decade offer a fresh opportunity to explore, says author Patricia Schultz, who helped invent the concept of the bucket list when she published her book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” in 2003.

Her newly released deluxe illustrated edition, (Artisan) serves as fresh inspiration for those with wanderlust to hit the road. Other 2020 travel lists, including USA TODAY’s own trendiest international destination picks, offer even more bucket-list fodder. 

“It doesn’t matter where you go in 2020. What’s important is that you go,” she says. Schultz shares some favorite locations with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Monument Valley Tribal Park, Arizona and Utah

Most Americans have seen Monument Valley in ads and movies, but the landscape of towering sandstone buttes and spires still stuns visitors, Schultz says. “It’s astonishingly beautiful, empty pristine undeveloped land that is sacred to Native Americans.” She recommends taking a Navajo guide-led tour, which ventures into the backcountry. navajonationparks.org/tribal-parks/monument-valley

Asheville, North Carolina

Boasting new breweries and restaurants and an expanded art museum, this Blue Ridge Mountain city is attracting more visitors – and there’s good reason. “It’s exciting. There’s a lot of young blood and young energy,” says Schultz, who has watched the city grow over the decades. There’s a new focus on the Appalachian arts and crafts tradition and its legacy, she says. exploreasheville.com


The new year marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ Plymouth Rock landing, which is celebrated across Massachusetts. That’s reason alone to visit Boston, which Schultz calls “one of the country’s most beautiful and historically rich cities.” She recommends exploring the Freedom Trail, which links the colonial city’s historic sites, and timing a visit on Independence Day. “It’s the country’s arguably best Fourth of July celebration.” bostonusa.com

San Juan Islands, Washington

Schultz recommends using Seattle as a jumping off point to visit these islands, which are easily reached by ferry. “It’s just so beautiful and amazing, and unless you’re from the Pacific Northwest, most of America doesn’t know that they exist.” Activities range from biking to camping to kayaking by pods of orcas. “Each island has its own personality and community.” visitsanjuans.com

Prince Edward Island, Canada

Except for fans of the century-old novel “Anne of Green Gables,” few Americans know much about this Maritime province. White sandy beaches and legendary seafood are among plenty of reasons to visit, Schultz says. “It’s a great biking destination, with trails that go on for hours and hours and hours. There’s a lot of protected land, making it a very beautiful corner of Atlantic Canada.” tourismpei.com


This Old World capital has steadily shed its stodginess with a growing gallery scene and a youthful vibe, Schultz says. This year, the city will celebrate the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Beethoven’s birth. Although a German, he spent his most productive years in the city, which opened a Beethoven museum a few years ago. wien.info/en


Although the Eastern European country has been in the headlines thanks to the impeachment hearings, it’s largely unknown as a travel destination. Highlights include the capital Kyiv with its Russian Orthodox churches, the vibrant town of Lviv and the fascinating nuclear disaster site of Chernobyl. “Ukraine’s one of the least-visited countries in Europe, and one of the largest and most interesting to me,” Schultz says. traveltoukraine.org

Kyoto, Japan

The Summer Olympics will put Japan in the spotlight, which is reason enough to visit the city, packed with literally thousands of historic temples and shrines. “It’s one of the most fascinating destinations in all of Asia,” Schultz says. With a population of less than 1.5 million, it feels like a village compared with sprawling Tokyo, and Americans are warmly welcomed. “It creates the perfect urban experience,” Schultz says. kyoto.travel/en


Egypt has attracted visitors for centuries, but the past decade saw tourist traffic stall after the Arab Spring uprising. Visitors are returning in growing numbers, Schultz says, enjoying gritty and chaotic Cairo, followed by a Nile River cruise to the magnificent sites of Upper Egypt. “There’s no place like it on the planet: the civilization and the culture.” 2020 is when the long-delayed billion-dollar Grand Egyptian Museum is expected to finally open to the public, she says. egypt.travel

Patagonia, Chile and Argentina

The region at the southern tip of South America is renowned for its mountains, national parks and vast wilderness areas. “You’re in another world when you go down there, and it’s unparalleled,” Schultz says. Though Chile has seen recent political unrest, the problems have focused on its capital city, not this area nearly 2,000 miles away. “It really is open terrain that has only been superficially developed and settled.” chile.travel/en and argentina.travel

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